Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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ISIS and the Crisis Across Iraq

ISIS and the Crisis Across Iraq Categories: Iraq, Islamic Extremism    

With a new Gaza ceasefire in place until Monday, and apparently holding, this Update offers some analysis on the other major, but often under-reported, crisis, gripping the Middle East over recent weeks - the recent gains by the terrorist movement ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, now calling itself simply the Islamic State) in Syria, new attacks on Lebanon, but especially its advances in Iraq, where apparent genocide by ISIS against minority communities, especially the small Yazidi sect, led to an American decision to intervene with airstrikes last week. As the Washington Post reports, ISIS now controls territory and resources unmatched by any extremist group in recent history.

Foreign Press Association condemns Hamas threats to journalists - and vindicates claims intimidation is affecting Gaza coverage

Foreign Press Association condemns Hamas threats to journalists - and vindicates claims intimidation is affecting Gaza coverage Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The Foreign Press Association has issued a strong condemnation of Hamas' harassment of foreign media in Gaza on August 11. It stated, "The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month..."

AIR
Israel continues to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, despite Hamas’ efforts

Israel continues to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, despite Hamas’ efforts Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

In recent weeks, the media has focused overwhelmingly on the ‘humanitarian crisis' developing in Gaza. Interestingly, neither the media nor the UN or other ‘human rights' groups - quick to condemn Israel for imposing a partial ‘blockade' on the Gaza Strip - have made any mention of the thousands of trucks of humanitarian aid that have continued to pour in from Israel. They continued coming even in the face of incessant Hamas rocket fire hitting Israeli towns and cities, and they continued coming even as Hamas attacked the border crossing itself.

Updates
Mideast peace possible if Hamas chooses

Mideast peace possible if Hamas chooses Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

As of this writing, the war that raged between Israel and Hamas over the past month appears to have ebbed.

If it is over, it is only because Hamas finally made the decision that Australia and the world had been imploring them to do for weeks - that is, to stop committing the war crime of firing indiscriminate rockets on Israel.

Failure to condemn fuels anti-Semites

Failure to condemn fuels anti-Semites Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Op-eds    

LAST month in France, a mob surrounded a synagogue, yelling "Hitler was right!" and "Death to the Jews!"

In Berlin, a demonstration ­allegedly concerned with the safety of the population of Gaza included the chant of "Jew, Jew, cowardly swine, come out and fight on your own".

This week in Sydney, Jewish schoolchildren on a bus were threatened by a group of teenagers whose verbal abuse included "Heil Hitler" and "We're going to cut your throats".

Gaza's border in a lasting ceasefire deal/ Hamas and the Media

Gaza's border in a lasting ceasefire deal/ Hamas and the Media Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The three day ceasefire that has been in effect in Gaza since Tuesday morning ended a few hours ago, and sadly, Hamas has chosen to resume rocket fire, firing 11 rockets in the first hour. This seems to pretty much guarantee the recent Gaza war will resume and Gazans are reportedly fleeing the border area, though as of this writing, Israel had not yet started to respond. Before the ceasefire's expiration, Hamas refused calls to extend it despite an Israeli agreement to do so. Already, a few hours before the ceasefire ended, two rockets struck Israel from Gaza.

This Update focuses on what a long-term ceasefire deal might look like, and more specifically on what arrangements for Gaza's borders might make possible Gaza's demilitarisation, a key demand of Israel, backed by much of the international community, including many Arab states (Sharyn Mittelman had a great deal on the demilitarisation issue in a blog yesterday.)

A demilitarised Gaza would improve prospects for an Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel

A demilitarised Gaza would improve prospects for an Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

AS an uncertain ceasefire holds between Israel and Hamas for now, Israeli and Palestinian delegations are in Cairo to meet Egyptian mediators, turning attention to how a long-term settlement can be achieved in Gaza.

Israel believes that the answer lies in the demilitarisation of the Gaza strip, tied to significant investment in reconstruction - a view backed by the US, EU, Canada, a number of Arab states and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

If Gaza is not demilitarised, a rearmed Hamas will likely provoke yet another major conflict with Israel, as it has already done three times.

The only long-term solution: demilitarise Gaza

The only long-term solution: demilitarise Gaza Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Attention is now focused on how a long-term solution can be reached to prevent a repeat of this Israel-Gaza conflict as well as the ones that had been played out before in 2012 and 2009. Israel believes that the answer is the demilitarisation of the Gaza Strip through diplomatic means in exchange for significant investment in reconstruction and the easing of border restrictions. The demilitarisation of Gaza is also supported by the EU, US, Canada and many Arab states.

The truth about the population density of Gaza and Hamas tactics

The truth about the population density of Gaza and Hamas tactics Author: Robert Ellenhorn Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

The piece by former ABC correspondent Peter George, published in three Fairfax papers today, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times, is replete with misinformation, lack of knowledge, and dubious claims. This is not the place to confront all of them in detail, but one telling example is his repetition of an increasingly common but easily disproven myth - that Gaza is so densely populated, Hamas has no choice but to locate its military infrastructure and launch missiles from built up areas. 

Crucial context and facts missing in media’s reporting on shelling of UN schools in Gaza

Crucial context and facts missing in media’s reporting on shelling of UN schools in Gaza Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

“US ‘appalled’ by ‘disgraceful’ Israeli shelling of UN school,” “UN Chief calls attack ‘moral outrage’ and ‘criminal act’” as well as “Another UN school hit in Israeli bombing in Gaza” are just some of the hyperbolic headlines that have been attached to reports on Israel’s ‘supposed’ shelling of a UN school in Rafah, southern Gaza, on August 3.

The international media has been abuzz with this story of an apparent Israeli shelling of the UN school, which was reportedly being used to shelter 3,000 displaced Palestinians in Gaza.

Madly Yours – The truth about the media’s favourite Gaza doctor

Madly Yours – The truth about the media’s favourite Gaza doctor Author: Robert Ellenhorn Categories: Media/ Academia, Updates    

During the coverage of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, many officials, experts, and other personalities have been called on to offer reports, insights and analysis to the public. Unfortunately and puzzlingly, one such voice making its way into the media has been that of Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert. So just who is Dr. Gilbert?

Support Israel if you care about Gazans' suffering

Support Israel if you care about Gazans' suffering Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

The nightly television images of the suffering in Gaza are heartbreaking. A vital challenge is what can actually be done to stop the suffering there and in Israel and prevent it recurring.

Gazans need far more than simply an end to the current fighting. They need leaders who put their interests first, rather than treating them as cannon fodder for extremist political goals.  

AIR
Foreign journalists in Gaza witness rockets fired from Shifa hospital and other civilian populated areas
Tweet by WSJ photographer Nick Casey

Foreign journalists in Gaza witness rockets fired from Shifa hospital and other civilian populated areas Author: Gabrielle Debinski Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Hamas' tactic of using civilians in Gaza as ‘human shields' by firing rockets from highly populated areas and institutions, and storing military assets in civilian buildings has been a central issue during debate over the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. While this has been the subject of some controversy, new reports from journalists should now lay to rest any doubts.

Hundreds of Hamas Rockets Have Been Falling in Gaza

Hundreds of Hamas Rockets Have Been Falling in Gaza Author: Glen Falkenstein Categories: Israel, Terrorism, Updates    

Many commentators discussing the recent conflict in Gaza do not realise that Hamas' indiscriminate rocket fire has meant that residents of Gaza, as well as Israelis, have been affected by Hamas' aggression. A sizeable minority of all the rockets that terrorist groups launched from Gaza at Israel never make it - and instead land inside the crowded Gaza Strip, where they can frequently cause considerable damage, deaths and injuries.

Gaza ceasefires, a history

Gaza ceasefires, a history Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Israel has just announced its acceptance of another 72-hour ceasefire to begin this morning, Israel time. Following yesterday's seven-hour humanitarian ceasefire announced by the IDF there have now been seven ceasefires the IDF has accepted in the current conflict. On the Hamas side, some of the ceasefires were accepted, some were rejected, but regardless, none have been respected by Hamas, which has continued to bombard Israel and carry out attacks during times the IDF has been holding its fire.

Lets take a look at some of those ceasefires, and their outcomes.

Updates
 What happened in Shujaiyeh?

What happened in Shujaiyeh? Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Ruth Pollard's report from Gaza on the Age ("Israel calls up 16,000 reservists after school hit," 1 Aug.) was accompanied by a UN satellite image of Shujaiyeh. The image highlighted large areas of destroyed structures. However, reports in Israeli media about Shujaiyeh provide important insight and context about the scope of destruction.

So what did happen in Shujaiyeh?

A Demilitarised Gaza?/ Hamas' capabilities

A Demilitarised Gaza?/ Hamas' capabilities Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

With a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire coming into effect in Gaza a couple of hours ago, along with plans to spend the three days on intensive efforts in Cairo to negotiate something more lasting, this Update focuses on the prospects and modalities of Israel's key demand for the conflict's outcome, Gaza's demilitarisation - a policy also supported in principle both by US President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. It also includes some new valuable background material on Hamas' military capabilities and tactics in this conflict so far.